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Foodies enjoying taste of success

Judy Murphy

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Liz Loftus of Lizzy's Homemade Jams & Chutneys. "I have a passion for this and sometimes the challenges can make you stronger. When it’s your baby, you fight for it,” she says.

Lifestyle – Judy Murphy meets enterprising women who have turned their homes into hives of production

Back in her student days in Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Liz Loftus was renowned for her cooking ability.

“Liz can make a sauce out of anything,” was a frequent comment from housemates and fellow students.

Liz has now turned this passion into her livelihood, courtesy of Lizzy’s Homemade Jams & Chutneys, which will be on sale during Galway Food Festival, which runs from next Thursday, April 2 to Monday, April 6. Before food took over, the Caherlistrane resident worked for a period with Galway Arts Festival, followed by a stint in the media and twelve years in community development.

Lizzy’s Jams & Chutneys made their first public appearance at the Galway Food Festival two years ago in the ‘Made in Galway’ Food Village, supported by the Galway Enterprise Board.

“I was poked and cajoled by Made in Galway,” Liz recalls. “I barely had a banner.”

She was on maternity leave from her job at the time and when a redundancy offer came up, she decided to change careers.

Liz had already been making jams and chutneys in her spare time as an escape from the pressures of her day job, which involved working with disadvantaged children.

Today, her stylishly-packaged goods are stocked in health shops, specialist outlets and supermarkets in Galway and further afield.

At present, she makes everything in her own HSE-approved kitchen and produces about 200 jars a month. She has tested her recipes over the years and varies what she makes according to the seasons – rhubarb will be in the mix for the Food Festival. Neighbours have been very good, supplying her with apples and blackcurrants, and there’s also lots of wild produce – including garlic.

Sometimes Liz develops recipes to meet demand – she recently started making piccalilli, having been asked to do so by Born Kitchen in the city. Born wanted to add it to their menu and couldn’t source it in Galway.

“I do pickling anyway, so I said I’d give it a go,” she says. Born is happy with her recipe, so she will continue to make it.

Liz was interested in food even as a child. She grew up in Co Clare and recalls that her parents would regularly go to the market in Limerick before it was revamped and became trendy as the Milk Market. Her father bought goods like cabbage plants, while her mother used to purchase doughnuts as a weekend family treat – that was as exotic as life got at the time, recalls Liz with a laugh.

Having taken the leap into the food business, Liz has been determined to make a go of it. She loves selling directly to customers and meeting supermarket managers, and is part of a community of small producers, who share advice and help each other.

Managing the finances is the biggest chore, but it’s a necessary evil, she says.

Sometimes, bigger supermarkets don’t pay suppliers for a couple of months, so cashflow can be an issue.

“But I have a passion for this and sometimes the challenges can make you stronger. When it’s your baby, you fight for it.”

Liz has simple advice for anybody with a food idea, who would like to see if they can make it work as a business.

“Go out and do it. Test the water first, test the product, see if there’s a market for it. Talk to other producers. Then go back and do your one- three- and five-year plan.”

Liz works hard, but is also determined to enjoy life with her daughter, Isabelle Fernie, who is now two-and-a-half. She puts in about 30 hours’ work a week between making the preserves, going on the road to exhibit and sell, and looking after the paperwork.

At the moment, that level suits her, but she has plans to develop further, and hopes to take part in the Food Academy initiative, run by SuperValu with Bord Bia and the Enterprise Board, where small producers compete to win company support and have their stock sold into Musgrave’s Cash and Carry.

Community development was also the path followed by Claire Davey of Baile Mheiriceá, near Clonbur until a few years ago, when she set up her unusual food company, America Village Apothecary. Claire now makes syrups, bitters and tinctures using plants such as gorse, hibiscus, pine and dandelion, among others.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

A time when we learned once more that no man is an island

Francis Farragher

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Country singer Dolly Parton getting the jab: she sang about it and part-funded research on the vaccine.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

One of the oft-repeated pub jokes whenever the price drink was increased, whether it by Finance Ministers or publicans who felt that their margins were being whittled away, was that: “As long as it doesn’t get scarce, we’ll be happy enough.”

Who could have believed though in the first month or two of 2020 that this scenario would unfold (at least in pubs), where the opportunity to meet friends – and the odd ‘auld enemy’ too – over a couple of pints in the local bar would be snatched away from us?

We probably have learned to adapt to the reality of the pandemic and most of us will remember the real sense of fear and constriction that pervaded our every word and action early last year.

2020 was the universal version of ‘annus horribilis’ – the term made famous by Queen Elizabeth in 1992 when royal marriages started to collapse like cards houses in the breeze.

Being of rural stock, I loved the little video earlier this from country music icon, Dolly Parton, who adapted a verse of her famous Jolene song to mark her first shot of the Moderna vaccine (she also donated $1 million to its research) in a very sincere effort to try and encourage the general public to get inoculated.

“Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,

I’m begging of you not to hesitate,

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,

Cause when you’re dead that’s a bit too late.”

A year before that, times were indeed very strange across Ireland and indeed the world. I remember on the Sunday night before St. Patrick’s Day when a sense of incredulity greeted the news in my own local that ‘a lot of the pubs in Galway city were closing down’. Surely, this couldn’t happen in our own little watering hole in the sticks, but it did.

Michael Karmen’s soundtrack from the Band of Brothers series – a wonder piece of music even to my untrained ear – will always remind me of that early Spring period of lockdown in 2020.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Beat the leaks with reusable Nixx

Denise McNamara

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Ellie Loftus creator of Nixx.

Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Ellie Loftus is one of those super high achievers who makes you feel totally inadequate.  A registered nurse with two postgraduates, one in paediatrics and the other in intensive care, she also has a Masters of Science in Health from UCD. She was Regional Child and Adolescent Health Development Officer for the HSE from 2003 to 2008.

The native of Crossmolina who lives in Barna then decided to go and get herself a law degree and was later called to the Bar. She is currently working as a barrister.

In her spare time, Ellie is a sprinter. She runs for Ireland as a master athlete and competed before lockdown at the European Athletics Championships.

And it wasn’t just running that she excelled at. She represented Ireland on the first female Irish Olympic bobsleigh team, taking part in four World Cups. She was sought out by Prince Albert of Monaco for a chat because she was from Mayo, the home of his beloved late mother Grace Kelly.

Now, at the age of 49, this dynamo has pivoted again, this time setting up her own business. She has drawn on her experience of working with adolescents in the HSE, being a mom of two girls and her years as an athlete.

Nixx.ie is a period and bladder leak range of underwear that could revolutionise sanitary care.

The underwear is reusable by throwing it in the washing machine and can be worn without a tampon or pad.

Each pair consists of four layers of specialised fabrics. Because they can be worn without sanitary products, they are a much more sustainable solution. The first sanitary pads invented are still in a landfill somewhere as they take between 500 and 800 years to decompose.

They also turn up everywhere you don’t want to see them. Sanitary products are the fifth most common item found on Europe’s beaches, more widespread than single-use coffee cups, cutlery or straws.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Stepping out of time in Burren Lands

Judy Murphy

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Lifestyle – Sacred sites and traditional crafts and placenames are among the wonders that unfold on a walking tour of the Burren led by Anna Casey Donohue. It all takes place on the lowlands and hills of the family farm south of Kinvara, where her husband John is the seventh generation of his family to work the land. JUDY MURPHY goes on a voyage of discovery, led by this retired teacher of Irish and Geography.

Driving towards the Burren from the village of Kinvara, its majestic limestone mountains are a source of wonder, no matter how many times you see them. From a distance, they’re amazing. But it’s only when you get up close, you realise how this seemingly inhospitable landscape teems with wildlife and history.

That wealth of nature, heritage and also spirituality is what Anna Casey Donohue wants people to experience when they take to the hills behind her house on the Clare-Galway border. And there’s no doubt, once you go off the road and start walking towards a field known locally as Páirc na Liadhas, the outside world seems to melt away.

Páirc na Liadhas translates into English as ‘the Field of the Grey Habits’, Anna explains. Located across the hill from Oughtmama, which was an important monastic site in the early Middle Ages, and close to the 13th Century Corcomroe Abbey, this place is steeped in folk history, much of which has long passed into the mists of time. But previous generations remembered Páirc na Liadhas as an area which was home to an order of grey-robed nuns. And as we make the gentle ascent towards the field – a green oasis on the mountain’s lower slopes with hawthorn and hazel copses all around – Anna informs the small group of walkers that it contains the ruins of a convent, which, it’s believed, was connected to the monastic community of Corcomroe.

Anna, a retired secondary school teacher who runs Burren Explore, is a mine of knowledge when it comes to the Burren’s geography, folklore and placenames – and the joy she gets from sharing that knowledge is palpable.

She’s originally from Kilbeacanty in the foothills of the Sliabh Aughty Mountains on the other side of Gort and this farm on which we are walking was inherited by her husband Johnny,  the seventh generation of his family to work this land – doing so in line with the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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